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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked, has written widely about the world of barbecue and grilling.
If you’ve looked into buying a pizza oven, you’ve probably heard of at least two brands: Bertello and Ooni. Bertello is best known for their flagship pizza oven design, the Napoli pizza oven, which is one of the more affordable and easy to use options on the market.
Similarly, though, the Ooni pizza oven provides an affordable and highly effective alternative, putting them well at odds.
However, there are subtle difference (and larger ones) between the two types, so if you want to figure out which one you might want, it’s best to look in detail at the two pizza ovens in action; their features, common models, and what they might bring to the table that’s unique.
To that end, let’s take a look at the two pizza ovens separately, then do a direct compare and contrast to decide which might be better and in what circumstances.
Let’s start with:
Direct Comparison of Napoli VS Ooni Brands
Comparing Ooni pizza ovens to the Napoli pizza ovens is a bit like comparing oranges and grapefruits. They’re not quite completely different types of fruit (as the standard “apples to oranges” comparison would imply) but serve fairly different market purposes.
Napoli pizza ovens are the casual backyard pizza makers choice, in my opinion. They are extremely easy to move around, store away when not in use, pack up and travel with, or do whatever you want with them. The results are great, if not as good as some other options would give you, and they’re also a little cheaper on average than the Ooni pizza ovens will run you, though not by a whole ton.
If you want something that can make a good home made pizza one in a while, and then sit collecting dust in your garage for 3 months before you do it again, I’d go with a Napoli pizza oven every time. It’s much easier to store these ovens and just ignore them when they’re not in use, and you save a bit of money in the process. Better, as compared to the Ooni ovens, they’re easier to use, with the option to quickly hook up a propane tank and get going if you want.
In comparison what the Ooni pizza ovens bring to the table is a higher baseline level of quality. They’re typically going to provide way more interior space, extra quality of life bits like the fold down chimneys, and easier to load charcoal and wood compartments.
This comes at the cost of being able to easily maneuver them, as mentioned. An Ooni pizza oven is going to weigh somewhere between 30% more and DOUBLE what one of the Napoli pizza ovens weighs. Similarly, they’re going to have increased size, meaning they’re harder to store.
The Ooni pizza oven is the choice for someone serious about using a wood fired oven to make pizza, but due to budget constraints or some other limitation (living in an apartment or rental property, lack of back yard space, city ordinances of some sort, etc.) cannot put in a full sized built in pizza oven.
If you plan to use your pizza oven at least once a week, grab an Ooni. Just make sure you have enough space set aside to tuck it away afterward.
Now, a quick rundown of the two pizza ovens I think best exemplify the two brands:
Napoli Pizza Ovens
The specific option I’m thinking of here is the Napoli by Bertello, which is not an ordinary countertop pizza oven that you can find online.
The Napoli ovens share one major feature that Ooni ovens struggle with a bit: portability. Every Napoli pizza oven I can find weighs around 30 lbs. Hardly lightweight in some respects, but significantly more portable than you might expect from a professional oven for making pizza. Napoli pizza ovens are very easily man portable, and compact. That makes them perfect for traveling to take to a friend’s house, on an all day beach or camping trip, or some kind of long term outdoor travel and stay situation (spending a month in a cabin away from civilization, as an example).
Ease of Use
Napoli pizza ovens typically come in one piece as well, further improving their ability to be transported and stored with ease. The legs don’t fold up or any such thing, which likewise adds to the durability (though may make it annoying to fit into tighter spaces whenever you might need to.
Napoli pizza ovens are overall smaller than the average standalone pizza oven on the market, providing you with just enough space to cook a good sized pizza or something similarly sized or smaller. Their opening is also deceptively thin; appearing wide at first glance but actually being somewhat unforgiving in terms of height due to the way the cooking platform is raised from the bottom.
Finally, in terms of unique features, Napoli pizza ovens are compatible with almost all types of cooking fuel, being usable with not only wood and charcoal, but with propane gas tanks. This makes them a lot more versatile in how they can be used, and the ability to use gas instead of wood or charcoal makes for a much easier time when you’re feeling a bit lazy or just don’t want a wood smoke taste in whatever you’re cooking in it.
In essence, Napoli pizza ovens present a good baseline for what a standalone pizza oven should look like, doubling down on the advantages a free standing pizza oven brings to the table over a built in pizza oven (portability, versatility, and affordability), at the cost of magnifying the disadvantages as well (smaller cooking space, less durable construction, and slightly lower results).
Ooni Pizza Ovens
In this case much of what I’m thinking of is determined by the Ooni Pro pizza oven, which again we’ll get to in a moment.
Ooni pizza ovens are characterize by being primarily concerned with being the best pizza ovens around of their type, and not much else.
This might sound like a raw positive, but in some ways is going to be a drawback.
Some of the positives of small, standalone pizza ovens is how relatively small and easy they are to move around. Free standing pizza ovens are typically extremely light, similar in weight to a standard kettle grill; between roughly 20 and 30 lbs. on average.
This is easy for a single person to pick up and move small distances, and to fit into the back of a vehicle with fair ease, particularly since they are often extremely compact as well, taking up maybe two square feet of space given the awkward shaping of them. Most can also be stood up on their side if need be to make more horizontal space by sacrificing vertical space.
Not so with most of the Ooni pizza ovens I’ve seen. They trend toward the bulkier side, even with their small and compact models. And the ones with the highest performance (typically the reason you’d be buying an Ooni pizza oven in the first place) are going to be both bulkier and heavier. On average, you’re looking at between 40 and 60 lbs. of weight for the average late model Ooni pizza oven. Even that extra 10 lbs. at the low end is a lot when you’re trying to wrangle an awkwardly shaped piece of metal, but doubling the weight? It can be enough of a pain to shift that up to a two man job if you have a hard time balancing it.
However, that out of the way, you ARE getting superior performance much of the time. Ooni pizza ovens tend to have larger than average interiors, so you can make larger pizzas and other foods with relative ease compared to similar models, which might be harder to work with.
Ooni pizza ovens are wood fired and charcoal only (a separate compartment can be purchased if you want to use wood pellets for making pizza), so you’re getting an authentic pizza experience every time. This can make them a bit harder to use compared to pizza ovens with the option to use natural gas or propane, but in general I’d say it’s a moot point; most people buying a pizza oven are likely going to want an authentic wood fired taste much of the time.
Ooni pizza ovens are also somewhat atypical in that some models (like the one we’ll mention below) come with a chimney, for better heat flow; this leads to more even heating and a les overt smokey taste, which you might not want in baked goods.
Overall I’d say the elements that most characterize an Ooni pizza oven are quality in cooking and similarly, versatility in cooking as they can often be opened up wider to accommodate larger foods if need be. Comparing them to a built in pizza oven, you’re likely to get similar results for a fraction of the price, so they’re an excellent choice for people who want to make excellent, restaurant quality home made pizza without breaking their budget.
For more information we have a detailed breakdown of the Ooni Pro here.